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Designing a sustainable future

25th January 2024

Leaders in sustainability and green innovation from across the North travelled to Northumbria University for a special workshop hosted by the UK’s national strategic advisor for design, the Design Council.

Welcomed by our Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Andy Long, more than 40 guests discussed emerging innovation opportunities and design interventions which could be harnessed to make progress towards net zero in the North East, North West and Yorkshire.

Contributors included Newcastle Central MP and Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Chi Onwurah, who told workshop participants that design has a unique role to play in developing a more inclusive innovation ecosystem.

Caption: Cat Drew from the Design Council, Chi Onwurah MP and Professor Mark Bailey from Northumbria University

Ideas for investment in green innovation generated during the workshop, led by the Design Council’s Chief Design Officer Cat Drew, ranged from business support services and human design libraries to networks of design studios based in the heart of communities. All proposals highlighted the importance of providing design services to those focused on sustainability and on working collaboratively.

“Northumbria’s strengths include environmental and interdisciplinary research which spans across the whole University, including our School of Design, so it was wonderful for us to be able to host this workshop. And to witness the tremendous creativity and energy in the room,” said Mark Bailey, Professor of Design-led innovation at the University.

The workshop was the second of two events held in the North and outcomes will feature in a Design Council policy paper communicating the opportunities identified to policymakers and funders. It aims to shape regional and national leaders’ innovation strategies and net zero investments.

Caption: Northumbria hosted a Design for Net Zero Innovation workshop, organised by the Design Council

The Responsible Innovation Hub (ReIn) at Northumbria has been established to provide an experimental research enriching environment that delivers research-informed education, knowledge exchange and impact. It comprises academics, researchers, Innovators in Residence, doctoral researchers and post-graduate multidisciplinary innovation students dedicated to making a positive difference in the world, by design.

Discover more here about design-led research at Northumbria University.

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